Debt Collection Defense

By Mildred N. Phillips

When you are overwhelmed with debts, you may start getting calls from your creditors, or collectors that have now been tasked by your creditors to collect these debts. Know the steps to take to protect yourself.

Question 1: Do I have to answer collection phone calls?

No, you do not. If you do not have money to pay, there is no point picking up that phone. A debt collector only wants to hear when you can pay and how much.

Question 2: If I do pick up the phone, do I have to answer collector's question about my employment?

No, you do not. Any information obtained by the collector can be used against you. So, the collector is asking about your employment to confirm your ability to pay and where you work. Then, if a lawsuit is filed against you and the collector obtains Judgment against you, the collector can use that information to garnish your wages.

Question 3: If I do reach agreement with the collector to pay, do I have to pay with my own check?

No. Never pay a collector with a personal check--Money Order is better. That way, if the collector reneges on the agreement and tries to come after you for more money, it would be difficult for the collector to ask for a levy on your bank account since the collector does not know where you have a bank account.

Question 4: Can my wages be garnished before a collector files a lawsuit against me?

No. The collector must first file a lawsuit and obtain Judgment against you before your wages can be garnished.

Question 5: Can I go to jail for failing to pay my credit card debts?

No, you cannot go to jail for failing to pay your credit card debts.

Question 6: Can my Social Security Benefits and my pension benefits be garnished to satisfy my medical bills, credit card debts, and similar debts?

No. Your Social Security Benefits and your pension benefits cannot be garnished to pay your medical bills, credit card debts, and similar debts. Your Social Security Benefits and your pension benefits are exempt from execution for medical bills, credit card debts, and similar debts.

Question 7: What does it mean to be Judgment Proof?

It means that you do not have any asset for the collector to take. This usually means that you do not have a house or car and that your only income is from Social Security Benefits or pension benefits, which is 100% exempt from execution.

Question 8: Can I write a post-dated check to the collector as the collector has requested?

No, you cannot. This is an illegal collection tactic. If you write the check, the collector may attempt to negotiate the check and charges may be brought against you for writing a bad check.

Question 9: Can I tell the collector to stop calling or contacting me?

Yes. You can tell the collector to cease and desist from contacting you. Then follow this request up in writing. Once you do this, the collector must cease all contacts, but can file lawsuit against you. Do not ignore the lawsuit. Otherwise, the collector would obtain Default Judgment against you and then try to go after your assets.

Question 10: What do I do when collectors are harassing me?

You can file complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and your Attorney General's Office. You should also consult with a local consumer Attorney to see if lawsuits could be filed against the collectors.

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